They stood staring up at the heavens and suddenly two men in radiant clothing were there with them. “Why are you staring at the sky?”
“Wait, wait! What’s that word? Mumɨndɨhi?”
“It means ‘why’.”
“I thought mumɨrɨm meant ‘why’?”
“… you have two words for why.”
They stopped and considered that and then explained.
“One means because why and one means for why.”
So they explained again. And again. We were all frustrated with the limits of the trade language for communicating these nuances until… “Wait! So… A man gets bit by a snake and goes to the hospital. Mumɨndɨhi did you come? A snake bit me. Mumɨrɨm did you come? I need medicine. Is that right?”
It was! We finally pegged the subtleties between a why for cause and a why for purpose!
So what would be the correct answer to the angels question, why are you staring at the sky?
- BeCAUSE Jesus just was taken up
- FOR THE PURPOSE of seeing him again
Well the angels then said, “He’s gone!” So probably b. they wanted to catch another glimpse and the angels were like, um… hello… don’t you have work to be doing?
It’s funny. Jesus just delegated His work of preaching about the Kingdom of God and left and immediately had to send down angels to tell the guys to stop standing around, hop to! It’s like He sent a message and said; maybe instead of waiting for me to come back, looking like a bunch of loons staring up at an empty sky, you could actually do what I told you. Go to Jerusalem, wait for the gift of the Spirit, go preach the Good News in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world.
I wonder if we do that. Wait for Jesus to come back and sort this mess instead of doing the work He assigned us to do. I know I get anxious anytime someone says, “Lord Jesus come back.” I know it’s often just an expression, but I’m not ready and neither are the Mum. I have work to do. All the Mum have not had the chance to hear about the Good News in their heart language, in the language that speaks to their hearts. We’ve met Mum speakers who didn’t know the trade language so I know there are people who have never read the Gospel in any form. I don’t want to meet my maker and tell Him that the task He set to me was uncompleted. He sent me to the ends of the earth and I’m not ready for this earth to be destroyed.
What about you? Are you just biding time until the Lord returns? Or have you started the work He’s assigned to you? How do you figure out what that work is? First, you pray and you let the Spirit guide you.
Does your neighbor know about Jesus? Do you know? Do you know your neighbor? Maybe you need to invite them for dinner? You do know your neighbor and they’re super obnoxious? You definitely need to invite them over for dinner.
What’s your church doing? Can you serve in your church? How’s your church serving the community? It’s not?! Maybe you need to start something.
What about the next community over? This has been a year for disasters! Donating goods to non-profits is often less than helpful but you could donate goods to a yardsale where all the profits go to a non-profit working in disaster relief. Could you coordinate one with your church or your community? Many non-profits have registries so that people can purchase online physical gifts that there’s actually a need for. Maybe some online shopping is how Jesus would like you to serve Samaria. (By the way, the Jews were VERY prejudice against the Samarians, so the more prejudice you feel against a community, the more likely that is the one you should be serving.)
What about the ends of the world? Short term mission trips are great for seeing firsthand what’s happening, but these trips often do more good for the trip taker than those visited. If you haven’t been on a missions trip, do it! But if you have been on a missions trip, you might think about giving a financial gift instead. I can print 1000 copies of the book of Matthew for the price of one plane ticket to PNG. I can provide enough food for the translators to work two weeks straight for the price of one night’s stay in town. What can an organization you choose to give to do with a check?
Let’s stop standing around waiting for Jesus to come back and get to work!
We work for the Lord.
Because He redeemed us.
So He can redeem others.
Elizabeth is a Bible translator serving the Mum language group.